Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scared Stiff

The Gorgon 1964
Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: J. Llewellyn Devine and John Gilling
Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Richard Pasco, Barbara Shelly, Michael Goodliffe and Patrick Troughton

Time for another Hammer classic and this one is one of my favorites of their lesser films. IT is still one of my favorites, one of the few where Cushing and Lee's roles are reversed, for once Lee is the hero. While Cushing plays the villain of the piece, and he does it remarkably well. It also has a great monster in the Gorgon, this film always creeped me out as a kid and it still has that sense of foreboding and menace watching it now. It is a great horror film in the classic gothic sense and it also has a touch of tragedy to it, which the best gothic horror films have too. It is directed by Terence Fisher, who is for me, the finest director Hammer had and he does a exemplary job here.
The plot basics are this, It is the early twentieth century and local villagers are scared stiff of something that is permeating at a nearby abandoned castle. A young artist's girlfriend is found dead, turned to stone and he is believed to be the killer but he is found dead, a apparent suicide. His father, Professor Heitz (Goodliffe) comes to investigate he finds that everyone is keeping some deep dark secret, especially the medical examiner, Dr. Narnaroff (Cushing) and as he investigates he checks out the castle and sees something that begins to turn him to stone and before he succumbs to it he writes a letter that he leaves to his son, Paul (Pasco). He shows up to investigate and comes in contact with the same thing but, narrowly escapes death and then his colleague, Professor Karl Meister (Lee) arrives to assist him and he soon extrapolates that a Gorgon, a creature from myth is attacking people and is inhabiting the body of someone within the area. The question is who is it, and that is what they discover in the nail biting conclusion.
This is a great film. Fisher's direction is very atmospheric and moody, a perfect choice for this film. The script is great too, with great characters in Narnaoff and Meister. The acting is great Lee, is great as the absent minded professor who saves the day. Cushing is great too, not really evil just wrongly protecting someone. Barbara Shelly is great too, very sexy and tragic at the same time. The SFX is good for the time the film was made and is very creepy. The music is also really important to the ambience of the film and James Bernard gives us a great score that really adds to the dread that the viewer feels while watching the film. I highly recommend this one for fans of classic horror.
This one gets 5 out of 5

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